Reviewed Apr 11, 2012
When I was a young teenager in the 70s, the BBC showed a series of late-night classic horror films and I became hooked as a result. This was one of those classics.
When Bela Lugosi was cast in the lead, he had already made his name playing Dracula on stage, and it was he who gave us the archetypal image of Dracula that has entered the public consciousness; the widows peak, the evening cloak and the smouldering sexuality were all introduced ed by Lugosi. Compare too his performance to the earlier Dracula/Orlok character as played by Max Shreck in Nosferatu. Shreck's Count Orlok (the name had to be changed as Nosferatu was an unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel) inspired terror and revulsion, but Lugosi's Dracula had something extra - the viewer (female viewers, anyway!) experienced a mixture of revulsion and attraction which must have been very potent in 1931. No-one else would be able to provide quite that level of frisson until the deliciously electrifying Christopher Lee took up the role in the 50s.
Today's average cinema-goer, used to fast action, sophisticated effects and modern technology might see this as hopelessly creaky and camp. But the more enlightened viewer, who can succesfully put him- or herself into the shoes of the 1931audience who watched this through more innocent eyes, will appreciate that this was something of a breakthrough in early cinema horror history. Enjoy...